(Ngäti Tukorehe/Ngäti Raukawa)
The importance of contemporary Maori artist Huhana Smith is that her works are concerned with issues specific to her generation. Protection of the environment, issues relating to land and water based cultural heritage, and taonga Maori have been subjects of concern in recent works. Her current PhD research is based around developing iwi initiatives or protection models that address such concerns. At present the iwi are revitalising and revegetating coastal wetlands at Kuku beach.
In 2000, No Queen's Chain was a series of works about custodianship, iwi ownership, rights and guardianship of coastlines. This series specifically questioned presumed public rights to foreshore, when there is no actual legal foundation. Since 1995 Smith has been working with iwi representatives to specifically design environmental models from a Mäori knowledge perspective. She communicates her desire to educate about protection of fragile natural resources, cultural heritage regions specific to hapü and iwi and the environment. Ethereal images of shellfish gathering beds and the landforms on ancestral land at Kuku beach, were potent reminders of the importance of collective responsibility to future generations.
Works from her exhibition Traffic questioned the way in which objects of indigenous material culture and taonga Maori are exploited by the auction houses of the world. She attempts to make the taonga disappear (as her imaginary protection device) from the catalogue where they are viewed and then "worshipped by a group of charismatic actors who sit in front of them and slyly bid."
Smith was a finalist in the Art Waikato National Art Awards 2002 and 2000 . Her 2002 entry 'Sale by Epithet' was purchased by the Waikato Museum Trust for the permanent collection of Waikato Museum. She represented New Zealand at the Noumea Biennale of Contemporary Art 2001 and was selected to exhibit in a group show Kei Whea @ (where it's at) at the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui. In the same year she was awarded a Te Waka Toi New Works Creative New Zealand Grant.
Born in Australia her her whakapapa affiliations are to Waikato and Horowhenua (Ngäti Tukorehe and Ngäti Raukawa) tribal regions.